Thursday 24 August 2017

Medicinal cannabis should be used to treat some conditions, report says

Minister for Health Simon Harris. Photo: Tom Burke
Minister for Health Simon Harris. Photo: Tom Burke
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Medicinal cannabis should be made available to treat some patients, a milestone report has recommended.

Minister for Health Simon Harris published the report announcing the programme for cannabis-based treatments.

The Minister thanked the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) and the members of the Expert Review Group for their work on this report which he described as a "milestone" in the development of policy on medicinal cannabis.

"This report marks a significant milestone in developing policy in this area. This is something I am eager to progress but I am also obligated to proceed on the basis of the best clinical advice.

"The report notes that this is ultimately a societal and policy decision and I have decided to proceed with the advice of the HPRA and establish an access programme for cannabis-based treatments for certain conditions, where patients have not responded to other treatments and there is some evidence that cannabis may be effective," Mr Harris said.

The HPRA report advised that, if a policy decision is taken to permit cannabis under an access programme, it should be for the treatment of patients with:

  • Spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis resistant to all standard therapies and interventions whilst under expert medical supervision.
  • Intractable nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy, despite the use of standard anti-emetic regimes whilst under expert medical supervision.
  • Severe, refractory (treatment-resistant) epilepsy that has failed to respond to standard anticonvulsant medications whilst under expert medical supervision.

The report stated that patients accessing cannabis through the programme should be under the care of a medical consultant and medical information and utilisation data should be kept on a central register.

It will be referred to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Department of Health officials and the HPRA will consult with stakeholders on how the access programme will operate. It will be particularly important to engage with the clinical community in the development of a framework.

The Department of Health officials will continue to analyse the report and advise the Minister on legislative changes that may be necessary.

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